So, at last, I’ reading the magnificent Moxyland by Lauren Beukes. Yes, I’m late to this game, but being American and a lover of paper books and a slow reader, it has taken me awhile.
Coming late to this game, I’ll not offer a traditional review. What could I say that hasn’t already been said about this amazing novel? Instead, I’ll offer my impressions as a writer.
After the first hundred pages, I would have to say that reading Moxyland is like riding backward very fast in a convertible. Things come into focus only as they recede away.
And lest you think that’s a condemnation, it was originally said about reading my favorite novelist–William Faulkner.
Weirdly, Beukes is actually very Faulknerian. She loves language and is a master of dialects, both real and invented. Like Faulkner, she constantly creates and conflates words, letting new constructs sound in the ear and resonate in the mind instead of pedantically defining them all. The words come fast and furious, whirling to form, bit by bit, an astonishing world.
Like Faulkner, Beukes tells her story from within the heads of her characters, first focusing on what lies beneath the surface. This approach requires a kind of ritual involvement with each character, an immersion in that person’s mental world. Each of Beukes’s characters is compelling, complex, and real, and the reader sees them from within and without in an ever-evolving kaleidoscope.
Also like Faulkner, Beukes has created an imaginary world that captures the social realities of our time. As entertaining as Moxyland is, it is also profound and, dare I say, important.
Faulkner said, “Read, read, read. Read everything–trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it.” That’s one bit of advice I’ve had trouble following. As a writer and editor, I have a hard time reading bad writing. It’s like listening to people who can’t sing. But I can read Faulkner because every page of his shows me something new and amazing that he is doing with language.
That’s the same feeling I get as I read Moxyland.January 29th, 2011
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